Introduction

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Andrew Matthews and I'm a snowboarder athlete from Yellowknife, NWT. I decided to start this blog to keep my friends, family, fans and sponsors up to date about my life as a full time snowboarder. I will be posting about my travels, competitions, training and random awesome things that I come across. Enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Iron Man World Cup Week

Salut!

Although iron man usually refers to triathletes, the definition (a man of unusual physical endurance) could not be more fitting for my time at the World Cup Jamboree in Quebec. After taking the red-eye and arriving on Monday morning I had the day to prepare the hectic few schedule ahead. Here’s how things unfolded for me.

Tuesday: First day of practice on the Slopestyle course. I show up and immediately think “what have I gotten myself into?” The three jumps in a row were all bigger than any of the jumps that I’ve hit this year thanks to my fib-tib joint injury. I wasn’t sure how it would fare if I came of short or went too far on the jump. Therefore when practice began I took the time to really studied the other riders to determine how much speed I needed. Many of them were struggling to get enough speed for the jumps, not exactly instilling confidence in me. Once I did hit the jumps I was also having issues with speed (surprise surprise). It was a little bit windy, and being a light guy I naturally felt like a feather in the wind. After a few runs I got the speed for all the jumps (by tucking in!) and got some decent tricks on the rails. Not a great first day but baby steps to build my confidence back up.
One of the girls warming on on the Slopestyle rails
That afternoon I received confirmation that I had a spot for Big Air. We had practice in the evening with Qualifiers set for the following night. A common struggle for both events was that speed was an issue for a lot of the riders. I debating skipping the practice to save my knee but decided that I should at least try a couple of jumps so that I wouldn’t go into the competition cold turkey. Luckily I made the jump fine and got a feel for it. Just enough to build some confidence for the next night.
Darcy and I – all smiles at the Big Air practice
Wednesday: We woke up to a beautiful day on Wednesday - sun shining and almost no wind (albeit it was still -15).  I got into a great zone riding the Slopestyle course! I landed my first switch backside 9s of the season. I knew I should probably take it easy and save energy for the comp but heck, I was feeling it! I tried some frontside 900s. I landed a couple but was having trouble looking past the spotting point for a front 7 and thus keeping the spin smooth. It was still nice to get some bigger spins going and overall it was a great practice.

The forecast for Thursday’s Slopestyle didn’t look good. Wind and blowing snow. I knew that having the best wax possible could make the difference between me making the jumps and coming up short. I made it my mission to find the perfect wax. After calling MEC they directed me to another shop which was a half hour walk away. I didn’t have a ton of time  (this was at 3pm and the Big Air started at 7) so I set out on a fast pace to find the key ingredient, fluorocarbon wax, to allow me to send it over the jumps. Although it’s ridiculously expensive, the $150 I spent was a solid investment in my health and performance for both competitions.
Welcome to the wonderful world of waxing...
Fast forward, all waxed up and ready to go for the Big Air. I can’t land anything in practice. Nothing is working. I’m second guessing my approach, then when that doesn’t work I keep trying different things. This is pretty bad for my confidence so I decide to go for an easier trick in the competition–one that I know I can land. Sometimes I need the pressure of the competition to snap out of a funk and perform. When the chips are on the table I usually get into this amazing zone where I’m so focused on executing my tricks perfectly that fear and doubt evaporate. I was almost there on my first run–so close to landing my trick but I over rotated a bit losing about half my points. Now the pressure was really on! I used the pressure to help me get into the zone. It all came together and I stomped my trick! Check out the video below. That was good enough for a personal best 17th place at a World Cup Big Air.

video


Thursday - No rest for the wicked. We had Slopestyle qualifiers the next day! The weather was as expected, bad, which made it very difficult to clear the middle jump. Our speed all depended how much the wind was blowing during our runs. Thankfully I was able to get enough speed during my last run of practice, giving me a small bit of confidence. On my first judged run I landed my first trick, a switch backside 9. Then I landed a front 7 on the difficult middle jump (albeit it wasn’t pretty). Followed by a nice backside 5. Next the rails, I landed my first trick a gap to frontside boardslide 270 out. I must have lost my focus on my last rail because I fell on my trick (a 50/50 front 3) that I had been landing all day. I locked in on the wrong side of the rail and had to try a different spin out which resulted in a fall. It was tragic to fall on the last feature! On my second run I was fired up to try a backside 7 since my back 5 went so well. In retrospect this wasn’t the best choice since I hadn’t practiced it. I was close to landing it but I landed backseat and put my hands down. That was the end of my hopes of achieving my goal of making the semi finals.
Competition day weather seems to never be ideal but everyone has to deal with the same conditions
It was a tough contest for me. However instead of getting down on myself I’m using this as motivation to do better next time. I’m incredibly motivated again and finally fell healthy enough to push my limits on snow. I can’t wait to learn the tricks that I’m missing (cab and backside spins) as well as progressing the ones I’m naturally good at into better tricks like a switch backside 10 and 12. I have a bit of time to work on my tricks until mid March when I’ll have 4 - 5 competitions in 3 weeks!

Congratulations to my friends who nailed it in Quebec! Darcy Sharpe won the Big Air with an insane Switch Backside 1260. Mikey Ciccarelli won the Slopestyle with a smooth top to bottom run. Check out their videos below.

Darcy Sharpe - Coupe du monde de big air 2015 from Snowboard Jamboree on Vimeo.

Michael Ciccarelli - Coupe du monde de slopestyle 2015 from Snowboard Jamboree on Vimeo.

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